Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


 

Leica Digilux 2 Experience Report

A review diary by Uwe Steinmueller @Digital Outback Photo

Also photos by Bettina Steinmueller

 

 

 

 
This review will be written again in the form of a diary. Most recent findings on top.
 
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9/4/2004 Our General Digilux 2 JPEG Workflow

 
The exposure is very critical with every camera and digital camera. If you use JPEG even more so. TFortunately the real-time histogram provides you all you need to get the best exposure possible.
  • Use the following camera settings:
    • Contrast: STD (results in a nice balanced contrast)
    • Sharpness: LOW (we would like to have a NONE setting)
    • Saturation: STD (subtle saturation)
  • Open the JPEG in Photoshop
  • Correct lens distortions with the free PTLens plugin (we helped to create a Digilux 2 profile)
  • Tune in iCorrect Editlab Pro 4.5 for fine tuning:
    • Improve white balance
    • Open up the shadows slightly (if you need more you can see noise)
    • Tune the contrast
    • Perform some color corrections (e.g. green or skin tones)
  • Final mild sharpening with EasyS as there was already some sharpening done in camera.
 

 
8/22/2004 New Digilux 2 Portfolio images
 
As part of our Santa Barbara portfolio we also published three new Digilux 2 shots.
 

 
8/10/2004 Digilux 2 Picture published as part of our Print PDFs
 


Monterey Fisherman's Wharf Crab

Because we are very pleased with the results the Digilux 2 can deliver we added one picture to our new Print PDF series. Check it out and experience the picture on your own printer.

 

 
8/5/2004 Digilux 2 at Monterey Fisherman's Wharf
 

Some of our photos at Monterey Fisherman's Wharf were taken with the Digilux 2. We have to say that we like the results from the Digilux 2 a lot. The pictures look very natural and this without a lot of work needed for the camera JPEG files (lowest compression).

We mentioned that photographing with raw is slow on the Digilux 2. Also the excellent rendering of the JPGs is another reason to use JPG with this camera. We use the following camera settings:

Contrast: STD (results in a nice balanced contrast)

Sharpness: LOW (we would like to have a NONE setting)

Saturation: STD (subtle saturation)

If you use the real time histogram to expose perfect you get images that only need very minor Photoshop corrections:

  • White balance minor adjustments (only needed rarely, we use iCorrect here)
  • Slightly brightening using PS Levels (images are slight dark in shadows)
  • Final sharpening (we use EasyMask and some mild EasyS sharpening)

 

 

 
7/29/2004 Digilux 2 now our main travel camera
 
We bought a Digilux 2 as our main travel camera if we want to travel light. Why? This camera is easy and fun to use. The image quality is good enough even for some more serious photography.
 

 
7/17/2004 Digilux Portfolio posted
 

We had only one chance to use the Digilux 2 for serious work as it has to go back. The result is posted in our Digilux 2 gallery. We are quite satisfied with the outcome.

Summary

There is a lot to like about this camera. As we use SLRs for now way over 30 years this is a camera that feels like a camera we liked way back.

Advantages

  • Dead silent operation
  • Good lens
  • Very nice 5MP images (even in JPG)
  • JPG colors are also easy to like
  • Real time histogram is a ticket to excellent exposure
  • Automatic white balance is quite ok
  • Big LCD display
  • Traditional manual handling for aperture, exposure time, zoom, distance

Downside

  • EVF is not a good composition device
  • The excellent feel of this camera lets us long for 8-10MP resolution
  • Would be nice to be able to go beyond 90mm focal length (although it covers an excellent range and longer zooms involve more compromises)
  • Price (would be ok if the Digilux 2 would have an optical viewfinder)
  • Raw files should not block operation as long as about 6-7 seconds

We have to say that this is a camera worth the name Leica and we see forward to a next generation.

 

 
7/16/2004 PTLens profiles for the Digilux 2
 
We (Jack Flesher and myself) helped Thomas Niemann to create custom profiles that allow the free PTLens plugin to remove lens distortions created by the Digilux2. We have to thank Thomas and also Jack for their great service to all Digilux users.
 

 
7/11/2004 Using RAW with the Digilux 2
 

We checked also checked the use of RAW files out. The write delay is about 6-7 seconds. This is not nice but also not as bad as with some 8MP digicams. The raw files are not really compressed as these files are 9,672KB and Canon 1Ds 11MP files store at about 10.5MB.

For raw conversion we use Adobe Camera Raw 2.2.

Comparing JPGs and the result form raw is tricky. But overall the benefit of raw is the following:

  • better WB correction in the raw converter
  • easier to use high quality noise removal tools as with the JPGs the camera itself already does some noise removal that creates artifacts
  • Better control in sharpening
  • If needed some more latitude for exposure corrections (although the live histogram helps to get very good exposure)
  • No JPG artifacts


Shot ar JPG + some mild additional sharpening


Shot as RAW, noise removal applied and sharpening in EasyS

We some work you probably get slightly better results from RAW but the JPGs are not bad either.

To make you own evaluation we provide here the original files. We also provide a cropped, layered TIFF that shows our corrections to the RAW file and the JPG crop on top.

 

 
7/8/2004 Leica Digilux 2 just in for review
 

This is a very different digital camera than any DSLR or digicam we have used.

This will be also a camera that we will only use in JPG mode. Why? The camera is very slow writing RAW files which means the camera is blocked to long for further action.

Very first observations:

  • Very silent operation and this is just great
  • Feels good in our hands
  • We also like the manual mode
  • We won't fall in love with any EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) right now. But this is one of the better ones.
  • LCD is large and easy to view
  • We like the live histogram that you can select with the Digilux 2

If you work with JPGs you need to get two parameters right as you shoot:

  • Exposure
  • White balance

TWe are certain that the exposure can be nailed using the live histogram. We need to check how good the auto white balance of the Digilux 2 is.

Our usual Los Gatos Pictures


Los Gatos Ristorante


100% magnification crop

We used the camera at low contrast, low sharpening and normal saturation. Probably in most cases normal contrast would be better. The colors were good in auto WB (white balance) and the Digilux rendered a nice shot ready to go from the camera.


Antique Store


100% magnification crop

This shot at ISO 100 shows that there is some noise reduction going on in the camera and that at larger prints (maybe 13x17) slight noise would be visible in the shadows.

Noise evaluation


Bear Cafe in Los Gatos

Leica Digilux 2

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

The ISO shot is clearly not noise free but we don't really see any noise issues here. At ISO 200 the noise is visible but still useable in most cases. The noise at ISO 400 is strong and we would probably not use the Digilux 2 at that ISO level.

If this camera would have an optical viewfinder we may have already fallen in love. We like the simple and classic manual handling of this camera.

 

Other Reviews

 

 
Review methodology (or lack of :-)) here.
 
 
 

 

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